Brady's Bunch

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Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing giving a free computer to everyone on their mags. Next, a chicken in every pot?

Deborah I. Fine plays guts football. First came published reports she was being axed as publisher of Glamour. Then her "successor" backed away. Finally, Debi was promoted to VP. What did she do? She threw herself & staff a "fine old margarita party in our offices," celebrating the October issue with its 228 ad pages, "biggest October in 20 years." Messy episode, classy lady.

Eloquent letter to ed. by SI's Frank Deford correcting The New York Observer for crediting Princess Anne for her good manners at Wimbledon. As we all know, Anne prefers horses to tennis. It's the Duchess of Kent, a tennis-playing honey, who schmoozes with ballboys and consoles losers.

Retiring after 30 years with U.S. News is ad-selling legend Dudley Wing (he'll continue to consult). They reckon Dudley brought in 3,000 pages and 130 million bucks.

Judy Price's Avenue celebrating 25 years in the biz Oct. 17 at MOMA in Manhattan.

Publisher Bill Wackermann says from an ad point of view, the launch issue of Fairchild Publications' revamped Details "thrilled" him. Carried 133 ad pages including top brands.

New mag called Cachet hit a million "affluent suburban households" end of August with a premiere issue. Our Time Communications is the publisher, Tony Wright sales chief. Offices at 521 Fifth Ave., N.Y. 10175.

Does David Verklin, CEO of Carat North America, know a little about buying media? Young Verklin, one of the whiz kids who started Hal Riney when Gallo went bonkers and decided to create a new agency, was off to London for a board meeting of Aegis Group, his U.K. parent, when we lunched (he was, ahem, tieless) at the Four Seasons. Says David: Advertising is now more "media-centric" than "creative-centric," the 30-second TV commercial, "as we know it, is an endangered species," but "you can't zap print." He cites Glenda Bailey's Marie Claire and Forbes as mags on the Internet cutting edge. Because of Carat's European links, David says they foresaw the success of "Survivor," "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," "Big Brother." He admits he thought "Brother" was going to be bigger, thinks "Survivor II" will be big but not as big as the first. And that all three will be dead in three years. As for predicting a "new season," "You give us the on-air time of a show, the competition, the lead-in, and we'll come within plus or minus 10% of who's listening -- and how many. But you have to know the math over the past 20 years. Success on TV is not what the show is about but what it's up-against and what its lead-in is." What else? "With interactive TV coming, a personal video recorder with a 30-hour hard drive and with your own custom-made screen, you make prime time irrelevant." Verklin's Pittsburgh-born, of Croatian/Hungarian stock (Dad's a dentist), attended UVa., lives in New Canaan with wife Victoria and their three kids.

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